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HateLab: Preventing the rising tide of hate crime and speech through influencing policy and policing

Influencing policy and policing through measuring and countering online hate speech and hate crime.

Police-recorded hate crimes in England and Wales are at their highest levels since records began, despite the problem being significantly underestimated due to most incidents going unreported.

Understanding the scale of hate

Research within HateLab draws on a range of methods, from conventional surveys to machine learning, to generate a novel evidence base of hate offline and online within Wales, the UK and beyond.

The All Wales Hate Crime Project, the first of its kind in the UK, was the foundation for the HateLab research programme, and remains the most comprehensive study of hate crime in the UK.

  • Surveyed 2,000 members of the public.
  • Interviewed 60 victims.
  • Engaged with 5,000 citizens.
Person using laptop

Cardiff University’s HateLab, a global hub for data and insight into hate speech and crime, has been aiding police, government and civil society organisations in tackling the rise of online and offline hate crime.

Evidence from HateLab research has been used by the Welsh Government to create a framework for tackling hate crime and embedded into the National Online Hate Crime Hub and civil society organisations, allowing police and support workers to address online hate speech.

Identifying and monitoring online hate speech

In 2017, in collaboration with Professor Pete Burnap from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, Professor Matthew Williams developed the HateLab Dashboard. They combined statistical modelling and machine learning to cope with the unprecedented scale of social media data, allowing them to generate the first evidence-base on online hate in the UK and to track online hate speech in real time.

It was designed to facilitate near-real time responses to online hate, including targeting counter-speech at repeat perpetrators and pre-empting outbreaks of hate crime on the streets. Real-time data generated by the Dashboard has led to improved response times, better support for victims, and more effective allocation of resources.

Tackling online hate speech

HateLab has generated an accurate picture of hate crime in Wales and hate speech online.

Evidence from the HateLab formed the primary source of the Welsh Government’s Framework for Action on Tackling Hate Crime (2014), providing an effective way for police, Local Authorities and Housing Associations to respond to hate across Wales.

HateLab technologies have also been embedded in the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s National Online Hate Crime Hub. The Hub, the point of contact for all victims of online hate crime, uses the Dashboard to produce intelligence reports for police and senior civil servants.

HateLab accepting an award

HateLab won the Wales Digital award for Best Use of Emerging Technology in 2019, and in 2020 was listed by Twitter as a ‘success story’ on their site.

In the media

The Guardian published the article 'Meet the man who won't let the haters win' about Professor Williams' work.

Meet the team